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2015 Spotlight Gala — Student Art


Student Art Project – Cups for Kids 

Every year, we shine a spotlight on Nebraska’s children through a student art project. These one-of-a-kind creations are used as centerpieces throughout our Spotlight Gala as a reminder that kids are at the center of all we do. The room filled with student-made art is a symbol that Nebraska’s children are always our first priority and forever present in our minds.

Cups for Kids

The Cups for Kids project was started by Eric Stearns, and art professor at Doane College to honor his mentor Dr. Tom Tonniges. It began as a collaborative project with his students to design and create 50 cups to raise funds for Voices for Children in Nebraska. The students “throw” the cups in their ceramics class and then kids get the chance to decorate them.

When asked, “why cups?” Eric was very clear in his reasoning; “Cups are particularly symbolic for this project because a cup is at once functional and beautiful. It feeds the body as well as the spirit, a cup is an intimated object cradled in the hands and brought to the lips. It is used every day, holding aromatic liquids that remind us of home and effortlessly warm our hearts.”

“Exhibiting the cups in a house shaped framework creates a further connection to the importance of a safe home. Much like this framework, Voices for Children in Nebraska works to ensure children are protected and secure.”

Student Art

“There is no better feeling than using your talents and skills to give back to the community in a unique way.” As and art professor at Doane College, he is always seeking opportunities to connect students and their artwork with the community at large.

This project has grown significantly and what started as a small project with a goal of 50 cups has blossomed over the past year. More than 1,200 have been made and were created by children and youth from all across the state.

Partnership with Hot Shops and Omaha Public School Foundation

In keeping with our long standing relationship with Hot Shops and the Omaha Public School Foundation, the Cups for Kids project was enhanced by the passion and mission of Artist Tim Barry. For example, students from Omaha North and Omaha South High School visited the Hot Shops Art Center for a tour and special art project with artist Tim Barry. The students learned how the skills they are learning in the classroom are relevant to their life and future careers, and how art can be a way to express their imagination.

Special Thanks

A very special thanks to Eric Stearns, Doane college students, Tim Barry, Hot Shops and all those who worked with the students, the teachers, the administrations and to the Omaha Schools Foundation for their support of this project.


The 2015 Spotlight Gala will be held Saturday, September 19. For additional information, click here


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